Putin tones down rhetoric on Ukraine

Aug 14, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT
VORONEZH, RUSSIA - AUGUST 5: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of State Council August 5, 2014 in Voronezh, Russia. Putin is on a one-day visit to the region of Voronezh, 500 km. south of Moscow. Credit Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images

Despite expectations of additional saber-rattling, Russia President Vladimir Putin struck a more conciliatory tone on Ukraine in a speech on Thursday.

The Associated Press reports:

Putin’s cautious statements and the terse reports in state media could signal a Kremlin desire to de-escalate the worst crisis in Russia-West relations since the Cold War. Putin’s remarks contrasted with hawkish speeches by senior lawmakers in a carefully choreographed performance apparently intended to contain the nationalist fervor that has become a problem for the Kremlin.

But, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the slightly softer tone has not yet translated to progress on ongoing tensions with Ukraine:

Analysts said Mr. Putin's comments, and the aid mission to Ukraine, look like an attempt to demonstrate a more peace-minded stance a few days after Russia struck back at the Western sanctions by restricting food imports.
 
Timothy Ash, an analyst at Standard Bank, said: "The message is first, Crimea is now ours, and not a subject for negotiation, but also look if you mess with us we have the power to go further in Ukraine, and also inflict damage on the West. By doing all this from Crimea, he is trying to offer negotiations, but from a position of strength."